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Why EU funding for culture should be maintained or even increased ?

, by Evangelia Tsomaka

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Culture is a set of distinctive spiritual and material traits that characterize a society and a social group. It embraces literature, arts, and ways of life, traditions, belief and values system. Without funding it in the EU ,we neglect our national identity and our international ’’status’’ as European citizens.

Credit © European Union, 2011

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Have you seen the film «l’Auberge Espagnole» ? This movie is an enlightens European diversity. The protagonist of the film upon his arrival in Barcelona, for an Erasmus semester, is thrown into a cultural stew when he moves into an apartment full of international students. This movie brings warmth, joy and a visualization of what for me is the essence of Europeanness. It shows how, everyday, multiculturalism pervades the students’ apartment and brings them together as Europeans. Nowadays, the challenge of diversity of multicultural societies has become a topic of contemporary importance in the work of the European Union. EU funding for culture should be maintained. It gives European members the means to propagate their cultural identity without losing it. We are in the age of globalization and transnational networks and culture is no longer a concept exclusively bound to national territories or ethnic groups.

By promoting cultural and linguistic cooperation and diversity, we will contribute to make European citizenship a tangible reality. We have to encourage direct participation by European citizens to the integration process in European Union. The funding programs of culture’s promotion should not only be maintain but also increased. It is indeed essential to enhance the European cultural area based on a common heritage through the development of cooperation activities among cultural operators from countries taking part in the funding programs, with a view to encourage the emergence of European citizenship. Of course, if European Union has common cultural elements and cultural heritage this can contribute to improve the external visibility of the European Union, too. A single personality for the Union will strengthen the Union’s negotiation power, making its action more effective worldwide.

Culture, nowadays, has become an economic key word. Through the propagation of cultural identities we can promote tourism in different countries and in that way support economy in the European Union. The term cultural economy is indicative of a particular subsection of economic activity that is concerned with cultural products and activities such as films, music, video games and fine art. Because cultural amenities and conditions are seen as central to the degree of innovation and productivity in so-called creative industries and because those industries subsequently contribute significantly to cultural newness, and to the development of an economic growth on a variety of levels, mutual relationships between culture and economy have received a lot of attention in the form of political will and economic research. The place of cultural industries in the developments taking place under the Lisbon Strategy should be strengthened, since these industries are contributing more and more to the European economy.

Under the principle of cultural diversity, each people, as creators of a culture, can advocate their own culture. Cultural diversity creates a rich and a varied world, which increases the range of choices and nurtures human capacities and values, and therefore is a mainspring for sustainable development for communities, peoples and nations. Through the pursuit of cultural diversity, each culture would not be limited by its own boundary, and people in the world would have chances to enjoy different cultures. Cultural diversity goes together with traditional cultures. It is an exchange of cultural experiences and an opening towards individual understandings and curiosity of people in the world. If you see only the same kind of movies, you may not be able to promote your curiosity any more. In fact, intellectual curiosity and encouragement require diversity.

Finally, cultural richness and diversity is closely linked to the attempt to influence positively the world, especially nowadays in a period of financial crisis. As climate change or financial crises do not care for national borders, globalization also unites people culturally and forces us to rethink darker sides of nationalism. The stock market is in turmoil, unemployment is climbing, and banks are closing whereas people tend to spend more on entertainment - as a way to escape the harsh reality. The need to support them through the increase of cultural events is obvious.

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